Glossary of Christian & Religious Terms
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From Eastre, the dawn goddess, a pagan vernal festival nearly coincident with the paschal festival of the church, an annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ held on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21. Eastertide is the period after Easter, extending in various churches to Ascension Day, Whitsunday, or Trinity Sunday.


Arabic Iblis, Muslim for Satan.

Ecce Homo

Latin, "behold the man," Pilate's words when he presented Jesus to the populace before the crucifixion (John 19:5, Latin Vulgate); a picture or statue of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.


Assembly of Christians; members of a church or a church building;


Hebrew qoheleth, he who calls together an assembly; member of an ecclesia; a book of the Old Testament written by King Solomon (Septuagint). An ecclesiastic is a clergyman. Ecclesiastical is of the church or the clergy, used in early Latin and Greek writings about Christianity.

Ecclesiasticus (Ecclus)

Latin ecclesiasticus liber, "the church book," an Apocryphal book of proverbs included as canonical in the Douay Bible.


The study of church architecture.


Latin oecumenicus, Greek oikoumenikos, of or from the whole world; general or universal; concerning the Christian church as a whole; furthering the unity of Christian churches. Ecuminism is the practice or principles of promoting cooperation or better understanding among differing religious faiths; ecumenical movement among Christian churches.


Hebrew edhen, "delight"; the garden where Adam and Eve first lived; paradise.

Edify (Edification)

To instruct or improve morally or spiritually; enlighten.


Ancient kingdom in southwest Asia, south of the Dead Sea, the citizens of which were descendants of Esau, son of Isaac and brother of Jacob.


Of an ancient Greek school of philosophy centered in Elea, a Greek colony in Italy, during the 5th and 6th centuries B.C., which held that the singular and unchangeable "Being" was the only reality and that plurality, change, and motion were illusory, its outstanding adherents being Parmenides and Zeno.


Elijah -- spelling used in the New Testament of the King James Version and the Douay Version Bibles.


Plural form of the Hebrew eloah, God. Elohist is the unknown author of the parts of the Bible where Elohim is used for God instead of Yahweh.

Elysium (Elysian Plain)

Dwelling place of the virtuous after death in Greek Mythology; paradise.


Designation of three days (usually Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) for prayer and fasting during a specific week out of each of the four seasons of the year, observed primarily in the Roman Catholic Church.


Title given to Mohammed's descendants through his daughter Fatima; a ruler, prince, or cammander in certain Islamic countries.

Empyrean (Empyreal)

The highest heaven, abode of God, sphere of pure light or fire; sky, firmament, or celestial vault.


Person supposedly possessed by an evil spirit; fanatic or enthusiast.


The actualization of potentiality or of true existence in Aristotelian philosophy; vitalism -- the immanent force which controls and directs life and its development.


An ancient Hebrew dry measure, estimated from 1/3 bushel to just over one bushel.


Richly embroidered outer vestment worn by Jewish priests


Hebrew ephrayim, "very fruitful" -- one of the twelve tribes of Israel descended from the youngest son of Joseph; the kingdom of Israel.


Of the philosophy of Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), a Greek philosopher who taught that the goal of man should be a life of calm pleasure regulated by morality, temperance, serenity, and cultural development.


The study of deciphering, interpreting, and classifying ancient inscriptions.


An appearance or manifestation of a supernatural being; a yearly festival (also called the Twelfth Day) held in some Christian churches on January 6, commemorating the revealing of Jesus as Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi, along with his baptism; a moment of sudden intuitive understanding or a flash of insight.

Episcopal (Episcopalian)

Designating any church governed by bishops, based on the theory that government of the church rests in a group of bishops and not an individual.


Greek epistole, a letter or message -- a long, formal, instructive letter; any of the letters of the New Testament written by an Apostle.


When the sun crosses the equator, making night and day of equal length in all parts of the earth. Vernal equinox occurs about March 21, while the Autumnal Equinox occurs about September 22.

Erasmus, Desiderius

Born Gerhard Gerhards (1466-1536), Dutch humanist, scholar, and theologian

Erastus, Thomas

Born Thomas Liebler (1524-83), German theologian and physician who advocated the supreme authority of the state in church matters.


Dark place under the earth in Greek Mythology through which the dead passed before entering Hades.


Hermit or religious recluse.


A spirit in Germanic folklore who does mischief or evil, especially to children -- from elverkonge, king of the elves.


The god of love in Greek Mythology, son of Aphrodite, and identified by the Romans with Cupid; sexual love or desire; libido or the psychic energy associated with it.


Branch of theology dealing with death, resurrection, judgment, and immortality; biblical study of the end times surrounding the second coming of Christ.


Douay Bible name for Ezra.


French, "spirit."


Member of an ancient Jewish sect of ascetics and mystics existing between the second century B.C. and the second century A.D.


Without beginning or end; everlasting; unchanging; perpetual; infinite; timeless or beyond time.


Heavenly or clestial, from the word "ether," an imaginary substance filling all space beyond earth, or the hypothetical medium in space for transmitting light waves and radiant energy.


Humanist study of standards of conduct and moral judgment.


Holy Communion; the concecrated bread and wine used for holy communion in the Roman Catholic Church. Eulogia is bread blessed but not concecrated, given to the noncommunicants at Mass, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Another term for Eucharist is Housel, which is the administration of the Eucharist.


Aristotle's philosophy of happiness derived from a life of activity governed by reason as the universal goal. Eudaemonism is the system of ethics that considers the moral value of actions in terms of their ability to produce personal happiness.


Greek euangelistes, "bringer of good news" -- preaching or spreading the Gospel; any zealous effort in propagandizing for a cause. Evangel is another word for Gospel. Evangelical is in, of, or according to the Gospels of the New Testament, generally Protestant churches that emphasize salvation by faith in the atonement of Jesus rather than the efficacy of the sacraments and good works alone.


Evening worship service in the Anglican Church; same as Vespers in the Roman Catholic Church.


To summon a spirit or demon.


Theory developed by Charles Darwin that all species of plants and animals developed from primitive biological forms by hereditary transmission of slight variations in successive generations, mutations, and natural selection.


To raise on high, lift up in praise, glorify, extol.


To exclude, by an act of ecclesiastical authority, from the sacriments, rights, and priveleges of a church


To curse, denounce, or call down evil on.


Greek, "explanation" -- explanation, critical analysis, or interpretation of biblical scripture. An exegete is an expert in exegesis.


Philosophical movement stemming from Kierkegaard and based on the doctrine that existence takes precedence over essence and holds that man is totally free and responsible for his acts, which is the source of dread and anguish that encompass him.


Ritual used to drive out evil spirits.


Atone for sins; amends or reparation.


Perception either apart from the normal senses or in addition to them.


Rejoice; leap for joy.

        I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying tp pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galations 1:6-9)

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  Reference Sources: Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, published by Prentice Hall Press, ©1986 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.; Collier's Encyclopedia, ©1968 Crowell-Collier Educational Corporation; Larson's New Book of Cults, ©1982 and 1989 by Bob Larson, printed by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Jewish Virtual Library (